Ahhh ha ha ha this is the beginning of the end. What have you done???
Abe Takaya is possibly my favorite anime character of all time and anyone who knows me knows this. To avoid getting too lengthy, I’ll focus on Abe’s visible emotional journey, and his seemingly-canon homosexuality.
Abe’s journey is from being damaged (has an inability to trust others) to healed (learns he is worthy of trust and capable of trusting.)
What makes Abe so fascinating to me is the absolute earnestness of his emotions. He is not afraid to feel and he is not afraid to ponder those feelings and learn to grow from them.
00. Abe’s staring point
Abe has been hurt by his former pitcher. Haruna was fixated on his own health and success, and Abe felt neglected and unappreciated. He felt used and unloved, and so sets out to have a high school baseball career where he will only rely on himself and his own skills so he won’t get hurt. He is so transparent and ultimately, so SO bad at accomplishing this.
01. Abe empathizes with Mihashi’s hurt, stands up for him
The first hand-holding scene is so important, it’s no wonder it’s an oft flash-backed reference point for Abe’s development. Momoe tasks Abe with trying to calm Mihashi down by holding his hand and telling him he understands. And when Mihashi finds himself in a panic attack, Abe does just that, and realizes that he does understand. Mihashi has worked hard only to be ignored and hurt, and while I’m sure he doesn’t directly connect that to feeling like he’s worked hard only to be ignored and hurt (by Haruna,) he is deeply moved by it, and genuinely tells Mihashi that he admires him. Like, holy shit. This guy who is trying to build an emotional wall around himself got it bulldozed down before lunchtime.
02. Mihashi’s earnest thanks humbles him
Mihashi thanks Abe so earnestly during the Tosei game that he makes Abe tear up. Grown boy crying in the dugout because his pitcher thanked him. He doesn’t realize what his means yet, but he is so moved by it that it shakes him. He is getting the attention he wanted from Haruna. He doesn’t know what to do with it yet.
03. His dad makes him ponder what friendship and trust means
Essentially, Abe-Papa knows Mihashi is somewhat fearful of Abe and that he is gruff and imposing to those around him. He implies Mihashi’s “trust” is “fear” and makes Abe wonder if he has any “real” friends. He’s not sure he does, which is a big thing to admit to yourself.
04. Mihashi speaks up for himself and Abe learns trust
Mihashi and Abe’s talk after the Bijou game is a huge turning point for both Abe and Mihashi, possibly the most important character developing event in the whole series. It feels very much like a climax. Mihashi says “we haven’t been relying on one another, and now we need to.” Abe agrees. They’d both realized it when Abe had to sit out, learned it on their own, but then they talked about it. Mihashi admitted he blindly trusted (read: relied) on Abe, and Abe admitted he did not trust (used) Mihashi, in not so many words (or any at all.)
GIANT. GORGEOUS. CHARACTER. ARC.
Abe is not afraid to consider that his views about himself and others are wrong, AND is open to changing them. Besides this being a joy to witness, narratively, there’s also something super endearing about seeing a guy try to be tough and unemotional and failing miserably at it.
There’s this other thing that I love about Abe, and that’s his plausibility as a canon gay character.
Sure, it’s not hard to “ship” in sports anime— everyone is so incredibly earnest with their trust, admiration, respect, and rivalry toward one another. And the excessive hand holding and tickling is just silly (though appreciated.) But to me, Abe is special.
Abe easily reads as a closeted and unawakened gay youth. That’s not to say there’s anything stereotypical or identifiable about a gay kid, but if you read Abe’s narrative that way, it seems to fit.
Abe’s fixations on his pitchers are so singular, and his emotions for them so intense, they’re easy to read as crushes and romantic fixations. He wanted Haruna’s attention so badly, he wanted Haruna to love him more than he loved himself. He was personally hurt when Haruna refused. Haruna was Abe’s first crush, and being rejected devastated him.
Mihashi comes along and gives him everything he wanted: attention, devotion, devotion… and it’s not hard to see a growing crush developing. Later in the manga, when he has to sit out of games and watches Mihashi play without him, he becomes quietly fearful of losing him.
Abe also OVER-denies his interest in women/heterosexuality, first in his hardly-convincing “I guess I like them (girls??) with nice light skin” and his “You’re all perverts for having fantasies” in the camp scene. I like to read them as closeted/suppressive reactions. But this may be “reading into” it too much for some. But I stand by it.
Anyway, Abe is emotional and gay and that’s why I love him!
Yes, yes, let me tell you my feelings about Abe and Mihashi, my favorite pair. I’m not in it for brotastic bonding, though that’s nice. I’m in it for these two dorks and any way you want to read their bond:
What I love most about Abe and Mihashi’s relationship is the parallel their characters posses in terms of how they’ve emotionally developed.
They’re both bruised and hurting and need help healing from what happened to them in their middle school baseball careers. They proceed to meet, decide to take what they need from one another, then realize they are being selfish and resolve to work together to grow.
Like, wow. Mihashi is hurt in middle school because his catcher refuses to give him signs and be a real partner. He ends up feeling unwanted and unneeded. He gets to Nishiura and Abe wants to give him all these things, so he trusts and obeys him blindly- surrendering all of his decision making, and thus, his half of the work.
Abe is hurt in middle school because his pitcher refuses to play for the love of the game and be a real partner. He ends up feeling like a disposable training tool. He gets to Nishiura and Mihashi is eager to need him as an individual, so he uses Mihashi’s skill calculatedly- taking on all the burden of the relationship, and refusing to trust Mihashi.
THEN IT ALL COMES CRUMBLING DOWN when Abe can’t hold up HIS end of the bargain, getting injured and not “always being there,” and Mihashi can’t hold up HIS end of the bargain because Abe isn’t there to follow.
Mihashi realizes he has his OWN self worth, and that Abe will need to accept that (WOW) and trust him with part of the decision making process. Abe realizes that he can’t control Mihashi and needs to trust him back to make what they’ve got work.
Goshhhhhhh. It’s just such a beautiful arc of development for both of them, and they did it together. How is that not ridiculously beautiful.
I think, and hope, that’s in line with what the author intended. Two bruised boys healing together, becoming stronger together.
I do still maintain my theories on Abe being a canon closeted gay teen. And I wouldn’t rule out the author having her own, private rulings on who’s attracted to who- her previous work WAS a BL manga (general consensus is that it wasn’t very good, but it was very gay.)
I have no doubt that Abe will grow to be romantically and sexually attracted to Mihashi. Mihashi’s attractions are another story. While I personally love fics and headcanons where Mihashi is heteroflexible or bisexual and they grow up a happy couple, I think it’s equally likely that Mihashi is straight and Abe’s attraction is one-sided.
That’s where the pansexual Izumi steps in to comfort hi—
Abe and Mihashi’s bond is so intense, but it is also heavily embedded in fleeting high school theatrics. Together they will help one another overcome their own issues, and their bond will be strong, but whether they can survive as a couple, romantic or platonic, when they leave highschool, I think can go any way.
that is 100% true that is exactly what Oofuri is about
Tried to go for messier and thinner lines. I think it looks more like a manga now XD.